Change has indeed come to the 42nd edition of the Metro Manila Film Festival.
With the slate of eight films announced by the MMFF screening committee on Friday, no Vice Ganda, no Vic Sotto, no major box office stars, and no “Mano Po” sequel will be in cinemas across the country this Christmas.
The result of a revised criteria for selection that prized artistry over commercial appeal, the following mostly independent films made it to the festival’s “Magic 8″:
- “Oro,” a political thriller directed by Alvin Yapan and starring Joem Bascon, Irma Adlawan and Mercedes Cabral;
- “Vince & Kath & James,” a romantic comedy directed by Theodore Boborol and starring Julia Barretto, Joshua Garcia, Ronnie Alonte and Maris Racal;
- “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank Part 2: Forever is Not Enough,” a satirical romantic comedy directed by Marlon Rivera and starring Eugene Domingo and Jericho Rosales;
- “Die Beautiful,” a black comedy directed by Jun Robles Lana and starring Paolo Ballesteros;
- “Kabisera,” a drama directed by Arturo San Agustin and Real Florido and starring Nora Aunor, Ricky Davao, JC de Vera, Luis Alandy, and Jason Abalos.
- “Saving Sally,” a romantic comedy that mixes live action and animation, directed by Avid Liongoren and starring Rhian Ramos, Enzo Marcos, and TJ Trinidad;
- “Seklusyon,” a horror thriller directed by Erik Matti and starring Rhed Bustamante, Phoebe Walker, Elora Espano, Neil Ryan Sese and Ronnie Alonte;
- “Sunday Beauty Queen,” a documentary by Baby Ruth Villarama about a beauty pageant featuring Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong.
“First and foremost in the criteria is quality,” explained noted film critic and academician Nicanor Tiongson, chairman of the screening committee. Tiongson noted that this year’s lineup “marks a turning point in the MMFF.”
Tiongson also quoted fellow committee member Alfred “Krip” Yuson, a celebrated writer and member of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, who said that this year’s festival films will contribute to “a renaissance in Philippine cinema.”
The committee made the selection from 27 submitted films — a radical departure from the practice of the last two decades when the festival made its selections based only on screenplays and the principal cast attached to the project.
Notable snubs include “Super Parental Guardians” starring Vice Ganda and Coco Martin, “Enteng Kabisote 10 and the Abangers” starring Vic Sotto, “Mano Po 7: Chinoy” starring Richard Yap, Jean Garcia, and Janella Salvador, “Our Mighty Yaya” starring Ai-Ai delas Alas, “Mang Kepweng Returns” starring Vhong Navarro and Kim Domingo, and “Moonlight Over Baler” starring Ellen Adarna, Vin Abrenica, Sophie Albert, and Elizabeth Oropesa.
In a Facebook post, journalist turned filmmaker Arlyn dela Cruz admitted that her AIDS-themed drama, “Pusit” starring Jay Manalo, Kristoffer King and Elizabeth Oropesa also failed to make the cut. Dela Cruz, however, declared that she’s still happy with the selected entries. Being an avowed Noranian, she is rooting especially for “Kabisera” even as she also revealed that “Pusit” will now take a “different route.”
Aside from Tiongson and Yuson, the other screening committee members are broadcaster Alan Allanigue, actress Mae Paner, veteran entertainment journalist Crispina Belen, filmmaker Lawrence Fajardo, Quezon City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte and actor Ping Medina who replaced Sid Lucero.(E. Sallan, Interaksyon)